Pearce Introduces Resolution to Protect Tribal Artifacts

Mar 2, 2016 Issues: Congressional Issues, Foreign Affairs

Contact: Megan Wells                                               
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Pearce Introduces Resolution to Protect Tribal Artifacts

Washington, DC (March 2, 2016) Congressman Steve Pearce issued the following statement after he introduced the Protection of the Right of Tribes to Stop the Export of Cultural and Traditional Patrimony (PROTECT Patrimony) Resolution: 

New Mexico’s history, culture, and heritage are unlike any other in the United States. Our lineage is one we must honor, and it is one we must protect. New Mexico is home to over 20 tribal entities that add deeply to our culture and heritage. Fundamental to protecting this past is educating present and future generations. Items with a cultural, traditional, and historical importance are essential to this education and promotion of our diverse history. Sacred cultural items continue to be highly sought after and sold both domestically and internationally. We as New Mexicans and we as Americans have a responsibility to bring this practice to a halt. My resolution calls on the federal government to work with our nation’s tribal entities and allies globally to combat the theft, illegal possession, transfer, sale, and export of these cultural objects.” said Congressman Steve Pearce.

Representative Tom Cole from Oklahoma, and Representative Betty McCollum from Minnesota, who chair the Native American Caucus, have joined Congressman Pearce as cosponsors of this resolution. Additionally, the resolution has received tremendous support from Native American organizations throughout the country. 

For too long, the sale of cultural patrimony has occurred both domestically and internationally despite prohibitions in tribal and federal law. Every effort must be taken to prevent these crimes from being committed. I appreciate Congressman Pearce supporting Native American culture and heritage with the introduction of this resolution,” said Governor E. Paul Torres, Pueblo of Isleta and Chairman of the All Pueblos Council of Governors.

The Pueblo of Acoma is deeply appreciative of the work of our Congressman, Representative Steve Pearce, in introducing a congressional resolution that will bring national attention to the black market in tribal cultural items.   In the past year, there were 10 incidents in the United States involving at least 24 items of Acoma cultural patrimony that, under Acoma law, were illegally removed from our lands and offered for sale by auction houses, art galleries, and on Internet sites.  This theft of our tribal patrimony is very damaging to our culture and offensive to our values. The federal government can do more to stop this illicit trade and we are grateful for Congressman Pearce’s leadership in this area,” said Governor Kurt Riley, Governor of the Pueblo of Acoma.

Jacqueline Pata, Executive Director of the National Congress of American Indians, (NCAI) commented:

“Indian Tribes have been disproportionally affected by the theft, illegal sale, and alienation of cultural, historical, and ceremonial items.  The sale and possession of these items both domestically and internationally, is in violation of federal and tribal laws.  NCAI's membership has taken a strong stand against the misappropriation of these items and asks the federal government to take affirmative action to stop these illegal practices.  NCAI applauds Congressman Pearce's leadership on this issue and supports this resolution which will bring much needed focus and awareness to an issues of great importance to tribal governments,” said Jacqueline Pata, Executive Director, NCAI.

Brian Patterson, President of the United South and Eastern Tribes Inc., added:

The ability of Tribal Nations to rebuild and create a healthy future depends, in large part, on how we are able to understand our respective pasts.  The ongoing theft and commercial sale of cultural, traditional, and sacred objects must stop, as it robs our Tribal Nations of the ability to clearly understand our history, heritage, and traditions.   These sacred objects, which often include human remains, must be returned to their people.  Congressman Pearce’s resolution elevates this issue to national prominence,  providing for a renewed dialogue on cultural repatriation.  It is USET SPF’s hope that Congress will hold  hearings and take action, in support of Tribal Nations, to address this illegal trafficking, and to protect cultural and sacred artifacts,” said Brian Patterson, President of the United South and Eastern Tribes Sovereignty Protection Fund.